Historic medieval church tower rescued following repair scheme

Heritage at Risk 2020
Godwick Barn and Church Tower, Tittleshall, Godwick, Breckland, Norfolk.

The barn and church tower at Godwick. - Credit: Historic England Archive, Pat

The ruins of an historic church located in a deserted Norfolk village have been saved from disrepair.

The site of the ruins of All Saints Church at the Godwick deserted medieval village has been saved according to Historic England, which on Thursday published its annual heritage at risk register for 2021.

The report lists buildings which the body considers to be at risk of being lost due to decay, neglect or development.

Recently, the tower was decaying badly with the west side cracking, leaving it at high risk of collapse.

Historic England supported a repair scheme, completed in summer 2020, which has enabled this prominent medieval feature to be enjoyed by visitors once again.

It worked alongside Godwick Hall, whose owner, James Garner, said the site was incredibly important for the local landscape.

Owner James Garner at the tower from the ruins of All Saints Church at the new visitor trail around

Owner James Garner. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

“Godwick All Saints tower is a really significant feature in the local landscape and can be seen from the roads when driving past," he said.

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"Many local people and tourists enjoy our historical trail around the site of the Lost Village of Godwick where it is located.

“It was important for the local community that we took action to save the tower from falling down, so alongside Historic England and the Lottery Heritage Fund, we put the funding in place to make sure it was consolidated and made safe for future generations. 

“It is also extremely valuable to us as a stunning and striking backdrop to many weddings at Godwick with most couples wanting to visit the ruins for some romantic photos around this incredible monument to our past." 

The tower from the ruins of All Saints Church still standing at the new visitor trail around the los

All Saints Church at Godwick. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

The lost village is one of the best-preserved deserted medieval villages in the county, and features of the ancient landscape, grazed by livestock and never cultivated, are clearly etched into the local pastureland.

Although All Saints Church has existed at Godwick since at least 1100, the current tower was built in the 15th or 16th century before it fell into disrepair when the local village population declined in the 16th century.

In the early 17th century the tower was rebuilt as one of the earliest follies in Britain, forming a decorative part of the landscape park around Godwick Old Hall.

The Garner family have been the custodians of this land for more than 90 years, with William Garner taking over the tenancy of the farm in 1928 and eventually buying it from the Holkham Estate in 1959.